laurificus: (Default)
Solid Ground
by [personal profile] laurificus, 2171 words, PG
"Don't look down," Sam says, but it's too late.

Written for Silverbullets, for the prompt fear of heights. Unbetaed and...a tiny bit rushed.

Spoilers for the latest eps. I would also like to offer the obligatory warning for schmoop. And in a bonus warning, beware of anvils!


Solid Ground

"I'll give you ten thousand dollars if you go up there," Sam says, instead of hello. He sounds normal, sure of himself. A little breathless, too, but that's it. Nothing Dean has to worry about.

Dean doesn't look up from the EMF meter that's squawking insistently in his hand. Doesn't need to to know that Sam's gesturing at the flight of stairs onto the roof. About a million feet up from the ground, broken slate and crumbling stone. Three people have jumped from it since the building was opened up again last month, only they probably didn't jump. That's still not why Dean's not going out there.

"If you've got ten thousand dollars, I'll do it," he says.

"Liar." Sam comes to stand by his shoulder, close--again. He seems to have given up personal space along with giving up Lucifer and crazy. He's brought coffee, though, so there's that. "You're more likely to get on a plane."

And that's just patently untrue. Even now, planes hold a special place of dread. What he says, though, is, "I'm Dean Winchester, and I'm scared of nothing."

"Except rats, heights, planes, and, if I remember correctly, puppets."

And a hundred other things or so besides, Dean thinks. On a good day. "All perfectly rational stuff to be scared of." He takes a step away from Sam, and very manfully doesn't flinch when a cobweb catches in his hair. "The last owner, you think?"

"Mr Sporkanov," Sam says, and Dean can tell he enjoys saying it. "Killed forty-two years ago, when his bookkeeper discovered Sporkanov was doing some double dipping with his wife."

"Nice. Cremated, I presume, or you wouldn't have said to meet back here." When Sam nods, Dean lets out a sigh. "Twenty story building full of junk. How hard can it be to find what's holding a weird old ghost dude around?"

"About that," Sam says. "Do you think a life-sized sculpture of him, complete with hair on its head that actually belonged to him might be it?" He's smiling now, pleased with himself and generally amused. "I took a look at it on the way up here. It might be the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Creepiest, too."

Dean doesn't doubt it -- and seriously, who the fuck does that? -- but his answering smile feels stretched too thin. It can't look much better, because Sam's melts away in the face of it.

"Dean--" he says, and whatever's coming next, Dean's pretty sure he won't be able to listen to it.

"We can't do much right now," he says, too loud. It echoes in the big, empty space. "The renovators might wonder why we're destroying freaky family heirlooms. I say we get some sleep and some food, come back tonight." He turns for the door and the endless flights of stairs beyond without waiting for an answer. Sam follows a few seconds after, closing the distance between them effortlessly.

"You're really fucking difficult, you know?" Sam says. It's conversational, no heat behind it.

"Like that's news," Dean says. Sam's hand is warm where it brushes, briefly, against his side. Then he's taking off, a whirl of motion and noise, long legs eating up the stairs two at a time.

"I get to drive now," he yells over his shoulder, the keys to their latest horrowshow in his hand. "Side benefit of not being certifiable anymore."

Maybe not a killer line, but it deserves a smile. Sam's got his back to him, though, so Dean doesn't have to go to the trouble of trying to find one.


Sam was certifiable. That's the thing. Sam went crazy in front of him, minute by minute, and Dean couldn't stop it. Sam nearly died, again, and Dean couldn't fix it. It should be old by now. The losing him and the failing him and the terror of it all. It isn't.

If anything, it's worse this time than before. He remembers how big the world felt without Sam in it for a year, how overwhelmingly, boundlessly empty, even with Lisa and Ben and a steady job. That memory keeps rushing in on him, a different hell his brain won't let him forget.

Sam's asleep now. He has been for three hours, in a room where the heat's irreversibly stuck on high. Next door, the TV's on loud. The sound of wild audience cheering mixes with the yelling of the kids from the street below. Sam doesn't notice. He doesn't sleep nights through yet--maybe won't, ever--but he's been crashing hard for stretches since he got back. Dean lies awake and alternates watching him breathe with looking anywhere else. Stupid thing, but he's terrified to look at him, and he's terrified not to. It's all very melodramatic, he knows.

Even the whiskey doesn't dull the edge of the panic. Even Sam doesn't. It should help, having him here. Sam, who still has nightmares, but who's calm and logical and possessive about his iPad and demanding about the music in the car. Sam, who snores too loud and takes too long in the shower. Sam's incontrovertible as he's ever been, and Dean can't believe in him, no matter how much he wants to.


When Sam wakes, it's with a start. "Hey," Dean says, and his voice sounds scratchy, used up. Sam's gaze catches and holds on him, anyway. That first panic Dean saw on his face is dimmed by relief, and he drops his head back on the pillow without looking away.

"Did you sleep at all?" Sam asks, after a minute. Still normal. No strain like he's keeping himself together. Dean missed too many signs before; he won't do it again.

"With you snoring like a pneumatic drill?" Dean says. "Unlikely, dude."

"Uh huh." Sam stands and stretches, arms wide over his head, fraying t-shirt riding up. He looks good. A few weeks ago, Dean might have done something about that. "Sleep's important, Dean. Fundamental, even. I should know."

"Keep talking and I'll probably get some." Dean finds the energy to get up just as Sam steps forward, and for a second they're not-quite but almost touching. If Dean reached out, he could feel how solid Sam is, the heat of him. If Dean reached out, Sam might too, and Dean could get lost in him for a while. Dean sidesteps, instead, and if Sam looks disappointed, Dean could be imagining it.

He certainly sounds nothing but exasperated when he says, "We do this quick. Get in, destroy the thing, and get back out. then you sleep."

Dean thinks, even then, that that's a stupid thing to say. He thinks it a lot more vehemently as he's running up the stairs later. It figures, really, that the kind of people who build life-sized monuments to themselves while they're alive hang on hard even after they're dead. The sculpture is burning fitfully below them, which would be a mercy even if destroying it wasn't getting rid of a homicidal spirit. Dean thinks he might be on the tenth floor by now, though he stopped counting. Sam, of course, is above him. He was unconscious last time Dean saw him.

The top floor of the building is deserted, apart from the dirt and dust, and Dean's already half-convinced he won't make it in time. The door to the roof stands open, a pale glow of moonlight bleeding through into the darkness of the room. Dean runs through without thinking. He nearly drips, goes sprawling face down and useless, but momentum keeps him going. Sam's crawling back from the edge, hair hanging in his face, a trail of blood spreading bright as he moves. Dean hardly has time to register the relief of him awake before Sporkanov flickers into view again. He's brighter than he was, lit up with anger and pain and desperation. That's good, Dean knows. Generally, that's how it happens in those last few moments before they disappear completely, but at the moment, he's got Sam again, that same desperation too much for Sam to beat.

Sam's not by himself, though, and Sporkanov's ghost doesn't seem to know it. Dean fires until his gun clicks empty. Fires a couple more times after that, too. He can't stop himself, doesn't even want to.

"Dean," Sam says, and Dean lets the gun fall from his fingers. Amateur move, Dad would say, but the ghost has disappeared. It stays gone. Sam's lying on the roof, close to the edge and breathing heavily. Dean goes to him, arms pinwheeling out for balance as he does.

"Could you please," he says, when he gets nearer. "Could you please get the fuck away from there." There's a tremor in his voice, a horrible, betraying sound he'll blame on the cold. The rest of him is shaking, too, inside and out, feels like.

He crouches down beside Sam when he gets near enough, looking for damage. A gash on his forehead, and a lump above his ear. Because concussion is what he needs, right now. Dean touches his fingers to it, and Sam flinches. Then he lifts his own hand, his fingers closing over Dean's wrist.

"I'm okay," he says. "Dean, I'm okay."

"Sure," Dean says, and he's the one who sounds like he's losing it now. "Some stitches and an icepack and you'll be good as new."

Sam's fingers tighten, and Dean pulls away, because--he doesn't know why, just that he has to. He stands up, heart pounding like it's trying to cram all the remaining beats of his life into the next few seconds. He isn't looking at Sam, but that just means he ends up looking at the city, small and brightly lit, and so far, far below him. His mouth goes dry. Fucking edge of the rooftop in the middle of the night. Stands to reason that's where he'd decide to have his breakdown.

"You shouldn't look down," Sam says, helpfully.

"Too late," Dean says. It doesn't much matter, anyway. Dean's been teetering on the edge for months, now. the fall's inevitable, might even be a relief.

Only Sam's standing, too, a little unsteady, but directly in Dean's line of sight. He's big, so fucking big, blocking out the patch of the world Dean could see. His hands come down on Dean's shoulders. They hold, fingers curling tight.

"You should breathe," he says, and he seems very sure about it. It's not a Sam tone to be argued with, so Dean doesn't bother. The second breath comes easier than the first, the third easier still. Sam doesn't let him go, and he waits until Dean seems to have successfully relearned the breathing thing before he starts talking again.

"I was going to say thank you," Sam says. "Before you ruined the moment. But, you know. Thank you."

Dean shrugs, or tries to. It's difficult, under Sam's death grip. "No big deal," he says. "Woulda been embarrassing for you, finished off by a ghost that creepy."

Sam smiles, very faintly. "Shut up. Not just for that. For every fucking time." He shakes Dean, and his voice is low and rough. "It's a habit you've picked up, saving me."

A stupid thing to say, just as Dean was finding firmer ground again. "No," he says. "I don't--I'm always." He stops, fists his hands in Sam's jacket without really meaning to. "Losing you," he finishes, and it hangs there in the air, sounding irrefutable to Dean.

Not to Sam, apparently. "Always getting me back," Sam says. He lifts one hand, smooths his thumb along Dean's cheekbone, the curve of his mouth. "Always," he says. "All the fucking time. Which I guess makes me the difficult one."

That gets Dean to laugh, even if it's bordering on hysterical. He leans into Sam, finally, because Sam's the only place he's ever had to go. Sam doesn't give an inch, which is for the best, really, what with how there's not a lot of space separating them from standing here and plummeting off the roof.

"Would kinda like it if you'd stop going," he says, and there's no room for shame, anymore, no matter how small or weak he sounds. Saying it almost makes him feel better, like maybe Sam's got a point about sharing.

"Yeah," Sam says. He takes a step forward and then another, moving Dean backwards, closer to the centre. When he stops, he tugs Dean in against him. "I'm trying. Got a pretty good reason to succeed, right?"

And that's something; Sam holding on as tight as Dean is. A flash of comfort through all the fear. Dean splays his hands out along Sam's back, touches his mouth to Sam's throat, where the pulse beats strong and steady beneath the skin. That's something else, too.

"Could you talk less?" he asks, still shaky, but not quite as bad. "If you're sticking around." It's for forms sake only, so Sam will keep talking, even while Dean's leaning in to kiss him.

"This is why I don't say nice things to you," Sam says, or probably that's what it is. Dean doesn't catch it all. He's sliding his tongue into Sam's mouth, and Sam gives up arguing, kisses Dean back, hot and demanding, because that's just how he does it.

I'm here, that's what he's saying now, and Dean understands that, grabs onto the knowledge as fiercely as Sam's hanging onto him.
Mood:: 'rushed' rushed


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